Mercedes-Benz A-Class Facelift First Drive Review

Opening

While some may object to Mercedes-Benz focusing more on mass-market niches with models such as the A-Class and CLA, the truth is that it is these entry-level models that are key fueling the German automaker’s appeal among aspiring luxury car consumers. The A-Class, in particular, has done successfully in introducing Mercedes-Benz to a large number of first-time luxury car customers in India.

The A-Class, which has been on the market since 2013, has seen a number of mechanical upgrades and additions, the most recent of which was implemented in 2016.

Exterior Appearance

It’s simple to conclude that this facelifted model is the same old A-Class based on the exterior look. The designers’ lack of effort isn’t unexpected, though, because the A-Class is still a good-looking car despite its age. Mercedes has made a few alterations, the most notable of which are the updated full-LED headlamps, a more aggressive front bumper, and the distinctive diamond grille completed in black rather than chrome. Around the back, Mercedes has revised the bumper to hide the exhaust tip, but the crisper detailing within the taillights is the most noticeable difference.

There are a few notable features that distinguish this facelifted model from the preceding A-Class. Details include the standard 16-inch wheels (larger wheels are available as an option), the chrome accent on the front bumper lip, and the ‘A 200d’ badging that conforms to Mercedes’ new model nomenclature. It also helps that the Elbaite green metallic paint, which is brand new for this facelift. However, it didn’t work for our editor Vikrant, who believes it makes the automobile appear excessively loud.

Interior appearance

Given that this is merely a midlife refresh, Mercedes hasn’t tinkered too much with the interior, and the overall design and material layout remain same. The shapes, surface treatments, and some extra equipment have all changed. Part-leather, part-fabric seats with contrasting green and white stitching, as well as extra leather for the new steering wheel, were featured in our test car. The latter has been removed from Mercedes’ larger models.

The new 7-inch touchscreen, which incorporates the improved COMAND infotainment system, is a great improvement. Compared to the old car’s mediocre-looking unit, the new larger display is far more user-friendly.

Despite this, the A-Class is not without flaws. While the cabin is well-built and attractive, there isn’t much space inside. Although there is enough seating for four adults, the car lacks an airy sensation due to the large A-pillars and high window line. Legroom for full-size adults in the back is enough, but there isn’t enough thigh support to make a long travel comfortable. Furthermore, because to the low roofline and limited door aperture, access to the back seat is relatively difficult.

Driven by Results

The first A-Class for India featured a paltry 107 horsepower and an almost uncomfortably stiff ride. Thankfully, Mercedes has made a few adjustments over the years, and we now have a car that rides substantially better and is noticeably faster than the original.

The 4-cylinder, 2.1-litre diesel engine produces 136bhp and 300Nm of torque. Despite the power boost, its engine is still the weakest in its class, though the A-Class is no slouch. Driving the A-Class about town is a breeze, thanks to the standard 7-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox that makes the most of the onboard power. The A-Class has a strong, linear power delivery and plenty of oomph to keep up with other drivers. The A-Class is content to stay at highway speeds once they’ve been coaxed up to them.

The ride quality on the original A-Class was fully on the firmer side, despite its suspension arrangement being changed for tough Indian road conditions. Since then, Mercedes has modified the spring rates, increased ground clearance, and even made smaller 16-inch wheels standard (with this facelifted model), all in the name of improved ride quality. The A-Class’ ride has become more pleasant and less tiring over bumps and potholes thanks to the larger profile tyres.

Individual driving modes are available for the first time on a Mercedes entry-level car with the A-Class facelift. In reality, the Dynamic Select option allows drivers to tailor the A-Class’ steering feel, throttle input, and other characteristics by choosing between ‘Comfort,’ ‘Sport,’ ‘Eco,’ and ‘Individual.’

Conclusion

The Mercedes-Benz A-Class condenses the majority of Mercedes’ typical traits – an elegant interior, remarkable quality, and appealing appearance – into a convincing small car package. With base ex-showroom pricing ranging between Rs 28.3 lakh and Rs 29.3 lakh, this facelifted model offers good value by adding new features and improved style while keeping prices largely unchanged.

Sure, it’s not as practical as the BMW 1 Series or the Volvo V40 (read: cramped rear seat, high window line), but given how popular the previous A-Class was in its class, Mercedes is sure to find more buyers for this facelifted version.

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